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The Women’s War

Nominated | Book Awards 2021 | English Non-fiction

The Women’s War (The Women's War: Politikens Forlag)

The Women’s War is the gripping true story of a Danish female soldier’s tours to the Helmand Province in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2009. There she comes into contact with the Afghan women who are fighting against oppression, domestic violence and the horror regime of the Taliban, and together they initiate a covert collaboration. The women receive the necessary aid to establish dressmaking rooms, beauty salons, chicken farms and other projects while being aware of the fact that the international military forces are their only chance to get rid of the Taliban. This book emerged out of the friendships built by a soldier with Afghan women who helped the international military forces in unexpected ways. It is a book by a woman in the armed forces about what war does to women, about the looming risk of taking chances in wartime and about grief over fallen friends, but more importantly, it is about how women in one instance found the will to not only survive but to make something out of the terrible conditions that war brings.

Full Title: The Women’s War: A Female Soldier’s Account of Her Time in Afghanistan

Author: Anne-Cathrine Riebnitzsky
Publisher: Sage Publications
Translator: Martin Aitken
Original Language: Danish

Award Category: English Non-fiction
About the Book: 

The Women's War is the gripping true story of a Danish female soldier's tours to the Helmand Province in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2009. There she comes into contact with the Afghan women who are fighting against oppression, domestic violence and the horror regime of the Taliban, and together they initiate a covert collaboration. The women receive the necessary aid to establish dressmaking rooms, beauty salons, chicken farms and other projects while being aware of the fact that the international military forces are their only chance to get rid of the Taliban.

The Women's War emerged out of the friendships built by a soldier with Afghan women who helped the international military forces in unexpected ways. It is a book by a woman in the armed forces about what war does to women, about the looming risk of taking chances in wartime and about grief over fallen friends, but more importantly, it is about how women in one instance found the will to not only survive but to make something out of the terrible conditions that war brings.


About the Author: 

Anne-Cathrine Riebnitzsky is an award-winning bestselling Danish writer with an unusual background. She graduated from the Copenhagen Writers Academy in 1998 but joined the Army. Having completed training as a Foreign Language Officer she worked at the Danish Embassy in Moscow in 2003–2004 before going to Afghanistan in 2007–2009 first as a soldier and then as an advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2010, she was awarded the Anders Lassen Award by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik X for her “significant military and civilian achievements during deployment”. Only then she began her career as a writer which to date includes four novels and three nonfiction works.


Excerpt: 

The second time I meet Nargiss, I understand why she has sought me out. Some months before, Nargiss gathered the women of her village and formed a cooperative to manufacture handmade jewellery. The colourful beads they use come from Pakistan. They weave the yarn themselves. For the first time, these young women are earning their own money. The Taliban don’t want women to work. But the men in Nargiss’s village are supportive.
‘I would like you to help with my project, just as you help the other women. But that is not why I am here,’ she tells me.


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